Puzzles and Creativity

The discussion of creativity on another thread today serendipitously came just before I found this: The NSA puts up a periodic puzzle, so I looked at the latest one.

It took me five minutes to solve the first part and about half an hour of ruminating to feel confident that I had the solution to the second part. No I didn’t cheat by searching for others’ solutions.

And I won’t spoil it for you by giving my answers here. Maybe later.

What’s most interesting is:

  1. I employed a few “tactics” to break it down from what was initially a confusing mass. That certainly comes with experience.

  2. There was a push-and-pull, a kind of tag-team effort, between intuition and drilling down (right brain and left). My intuition confirms that the answer I eventually found is correct, because it is beautiful.

Let us know what you find.

1 Like

meh I hate puzzles like that, most times I seem to understand the rules in a different/wrong way and I give up ;(
and if not then I usually cant find the solution :smiley:
So I’m patiently waiting now…

OK, I implied that I would present my answer so here it is. My apologies for the terseness of the explanation. It was a lot harder to explain and prove than to picture the basic idea!

That’s great! You’re NSA material.

Honestly though. The solution took me just reading the rules. Passive communication and co-strategizing was allowed. Done.

Solution 1 = Have my partner stand left or right depending on the color. I now have knowledge of the color of the card I hold.

Solution 2 = Similar principle. Instead have one of your team mates stand in a specific cardinal direction to indicate what suit I have.

I’ve demonstrated the ability to think abstractly and used a simple algorithm to obtain the solution. Never was it said that complex math or a specific method was necessary to reach the solution. Even if implied by the statement of NSA employees finding solutions in terms of complex maths. These problems should force the participant to obtain the answer using a mathematical process. Otherwise a pragmatist will slice through.

Yes the inevitable argument is that the implication and purpose of the exercise is to strengthen the use of mathematical concepts though not stated explicitly in the puzzle itself. In the field quick thinking and simplification is equally important (special forces easily opens your eyes to this (result of high combat autonomy vs mindless command execution)). Imagine if Maidsafe opted for complexity over simplicity. Quite possibly an epic fail. :v: :slight_smile:

See now Im confused. Doesnt it say No communication?

"The players may not communicate in any way. "

So how can they know who chooses what?

Yep not very stringent. I just rode every logical opening to an answer using a method ultimately validated by the accepted answer. Gotta love the N*SA. Hunting and opening back doors while neglecting their own. Kudos for bringing it up. :v:

@pierce is pulling the reader’s leg.

There’s no communication during the trial in my solution, and it adheres strictly to the stated rules of the game. The printout.md lists all the combinations of cards with the results of the strategy and is therefore a proof.

Let me know if anything is unclear.

We’re not looking at your solution. Instead a solution as requested by the text. The problem maintains an open avenue for what I presented. Tell me otherwise. Please, teach. :innocent:

EDIT: Don’t forget:

“Each will hold that card to his/her forehead for the other person to see, but neither can see his/her own card.”

No, read it again. The description of the game states quite clearly:

The players may not communicate in any way (…) He gives Bruce and Ava five minutes to devise a strategy beforehand


There is no communication while the game is in progress, but they have five minutes to devise a strategy beforehand

That includes no passive communication such as you describe, of standing in a particular way according to what they see.

Bullshit. Only after it (the game) has begun will cards being held on foreheads be presented to each other. Nonsense. Try again…

I can’t parse that statement. It appears to have no relation to anything.

Anyone else?

Anyway, my solution is a solution. Anyone interested, please confirm.

@pierce 's proposed solution is clearly not a solution because it involves signalling during the game, which is clearly prohibited.

This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.

The signaling is no more unqualified than deemed acceptable by the guidelines. Bird don’t be petty. :unamused:

The description of the game explicitly states the only form of “communication”: exposure of a card.

Not true. It doesn’t state that explicitly… :smirk:

The players may not communicate in any way

Is explicit. It then states what is to be done (show the card).

What!!! Now you contradict? You’ll do anything…

How am I contradicting?

And by reasoning of its solution allows for what I presented. Jeez you’re stuck.

You don’t care to consider the entire picture it seems. There are holes in this and yet you attempt to fill them to validate your tiny accomplishment. No good. Please stop.